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June 21st Clemson Historic Picture Of The Day

Aerial View Of Death Valley In Early 1980’s And The Story Behind The Jump And Photo! 

(Photos Uploaded By Alan Cutts)

Today’s photos are from the early 1980’s and show a unique aerial view of Death Valley and surrounding areas.

After seeing this photo in a previous blog, I received an email from the photographer.  His name is Jim Benson and he is a Clemson graduate of the Class of 1984.  Below is his account of that day:

This was late 1983 or very early 1984.  I was Vice President of the Clemson skydiving club for a couple of years around that time and several of us were doing an exhibition jump that day.  The TAPS yearbook staff set me up with a camera (old style hand-held 35mm SLR) that I just hung around my neck stuffed down inside my jumpsuit.

We jumped from over a mile up from a Cessna 182 & after a little bit of freefall Relative Work fun & opening my parachute, I pulled out the 35mm.  I quickly took the roll within ~2 minutes before having to stuff it away & focus on doing a nice landing for the crowd down on Bowman Field.

My loose goal to get the TAPS team something interesting was to combine another jumper in the foreground along with some background scenery of Clemson below.  The jumper in the photos was also a Clemson student - named Eddie Weaver.  He flew-up close beside me and ended up in many of my shots.  It all happened quickly & was sort of a case of “take a lot of pics” and “hope for the best”.

As luck would have it with the winds that day, we ended up flying right over Death Valley on our way over to Bowman field.  Eddie spiraled down below me and as I saw him & Death Valley come together in my viewer I snapped away with one hand while steering my own canopy with the other.  Somehow I managed to keep things in focus and a few photos came out pretty good and ended up in the 1984 TAPS.

It was good to come across these pictures again after all these years.  Thanks for sharing them with everyone & bringing back some good memories.

 Jim Benson
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1984

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